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Pope Appoints Top Diplomat as Secretary of State

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Pope Francis has appointed a senior Vatican diplomat as his new secretary of state, a role often called the "deputy pope."

The Vatican said Saturday that Archbishop Pietro Parolin, a former deputy foreign minister at the Vatican, will take up the post of secretary of state on October 15.

The 58-year-old Parolin currently serves as the Vatican's envoy to Venezuela.

The appointment ends the era of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was widely blamed for failing to prevent ethical and financial scandals that surfaced during the eight-year reign of the former pontiff, Pope Benedict.

The naming of a new secretary of state marks the top appointment by Pope Francis since his election in March. The secretary of state sits in when the pope is ill and sets the tone for the Vatican's central administration, known as the Curia. He is involved in financial issues, the appointment of bishops and in diplomatic relations with more than 170 countries.

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